JACKSONVILLE – Traveling into Duval one week after the Fleming Island Golder Eagles opened their season with a home victory, the team knew they faced a stout opponent in the Sandalwood Saints who …
JACKSONVILLE – Traveling into Duval one week after the Fleming Island Golder Eagles opened their season with a home victory, the team knew they faced a stout opponent in the Sandalwood Saints who also opened their season with a victory at Ribault. There could only be one unbeaten left standing in the end. Marred with mistakes and opportunities left on the table, Fleming Island would mark their first loss of the season as they took until the second half of the game to get their house in order and put points on the board.
“A lot of mistakes, a lot of mis-read keys, just a bunch of mistakes. I don’t know what it was but that just wasn’t our same team that was playing the past two weeks” said Fleming Island Head Coach Damenyum Springs.
After 24 minutes of play, down 29-0, the deficit was too great for the team to overcome. Even holding the Saints scoreless in the third quarter wasn’t enough to bounce back as Fleming Island would go down 35-13 to even their season at 1-1.
The Golden Eagles started with a positive as they won the coin toss and deferred receiving until the second half. On Sandalwood’s opening drive, it only took two plays for Fleming Island to come up big when Saints Junior Quarterback Jeff Sims misfired and was picked off by Andrew Thomas. The pick would set the Golden Eagles up with a first and 10 on the Sandalwood 26. Two runs and an incomplete pass to Sam Snyder would leave Springs with an easy decision to take the points with a field goal. Kicker Zachary Fletcher launched a 36 yard attempt that had plenty of distance, but veered wide right.
Missed opportunity number one.
Sandalwood taught Fleming Island a lesson on second chances by marching down the field with a mix of quick hit passes and darting runs to go 80 yards for their first score at 7:01. The bright spot was a blocked point after by Fleming’s Jaelin Blount to keep the score at 6-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Fleming started off on the 20, and on first down saw a streaking Sam Snyder wide open. Quarterback Dean Hyams placed the ball perfectly, hitting Snyder in stride. After the catch, Saints defender Adam Burns stripped the ball with a hook from behind.
Missed opportunity number two.
With the recovery, the Saint again marched 58 yards in large part with a 33-yard reception that put the score at 13-0 after the good point after. The Golden Eagles took the ball back, and turned to game standout Aaron Ramirez who hooked up with a screen pass for +9, and reception for another 20 yards. Dewayne McBride did some heavy lifting of his own to carry the ball five times on the drive to get Fleming Island to a third and eight to go on the 18. The incomplete pass set up an Avery Coussens field goal attempt that would go wide left.
With 1:12 still left in the first quarter, Fleming Island’s third missed opportunity had the team reeling.
The second quarter saw Saints QB Sims pick apart Fleming Island’s secondary with a pass release from snap to reception in under 1.5 seconds.
“We had pressure on him early, we had him wrapped up early, but we just couldn’t tackle him,” said Springs. “We didn’t tackle well and he’s a division one caliber athlete and he outplayed us.”
The quick hits to Saints Taylin Nalls, Kaleb Parker, and Javonte Kinsey could not be adjusted to quickly enough and had the Golden Eagles back on their heels the entire first half. Before defenders could get near their receivers, the ball was already in their hands and they were turning upfield.
In eight plays, it was 19-0 and a two-point conversion made it 21-0. Fleming Island answered with a six play drive that stalled and ended in a punt.
On the ensuing drive, the Saints made another mistake and Sims was picked off in the endzone by Fleming Island’s Eugene Oglesby who ran the ball back to the 50 yard line. Right at the point where the Golden Eagles needed life support the pickoff was exactly what they needed. Adding to the run was a late hit personal foul that gave Fleming Island the ball at the 35.
After three plays and facing a fourth and about a foot, Springs would go for it on fourth down, only to be denied as Bryan Maddox could not find enough daylight. Missed opportunity number four. The Saints would slap Fleming Island with three plays going 75 yards to put the score at 29-0. With 1:02 left in the half, Fleming would drive deep into Saints territory and have :01 seconds left to hit a 39 yard field goal for a moral boost to head into the locker room, only to be denied when Coussens flubbed again.
Missed opportunity number five.
In the third quarter, Sam Snyder would get some redemption as the Eagles took the deferred kick, used two plays to find Snyder and finally get the score to 29-7. Only using 1:06 to score, Fleming Island had life again. The defense held and forced a Saints punt that Fleming Island turned back to Aaron Ramirez to receive. Ramirez answered the call with a run back to the Saints 5-yard line before getting caught.
“I just ran out of gas. I was trying to read the block and it just didn’t happen.” Said Ramirez.
Enter the Golden Eagle Heavy Package lead by Andrew Thomas. Two plays later, 29-13 after a high point after snap and botched attempt. The Saints were again held to a punt on the next drive. As Fleming Island was driving hard at the Saints 18 yard line, Hyams saw Snyder open near the goal line again, put it up for Snyder to haul down, but the ball was tipped and recovered by the Saints.
Missed opportunity number six.
In the fourth quarter, Fleming Island would again intercept Sims and get new life early in the quarter. The drive started on the Fleming 2 yard line and get snuffed out after seven plays and result in another punt. Starting on the 30, the Saints took one play 69 yards. The drive ended with another score for the 35-13 final score.
“It all starts back early in the week. We had a lot of distraction early this week which is not necessary, so we just got to get them back and focused, get them back to playing football. We just have to get them focused… I don’t know but we’ll see,” said Springs.
Fleming Island only has a few days to fix the issues and recover from the missed opportunities as they travel to Middleburg who are also coming off a stinging defeat to Clay High last week.